For this special edition of Hay There we caught up with Dr Gemma Pearson, Director…
Dealing with animals on the network: Horses loose on the road
The Horse Trust, in partnership with The British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA) and Highways England were delighted to announce the start of ‘Animals on the Network’ Equine Training in the north of England.
Throughout May and June almost 90 Highways England Traffic officers received the award-winning training developed by British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care Association (BARTA) and The Horse Trust to provide them with special skills needed by officers who encounter horses loose on the busy road network across the region.
Horses loose on the road are a dangerous prospect for public safety and horse welfare. The Horse Trust has provided training to the emergency response teams of the Police and Fire service for almost 10 years and worked closely with BARTA co-founder Jim Green to develop this vital course for front line emergency responders.
In the training emphasis is placed on reducing anxiety and minimising further stress by having an awareness of how horses react during dynamic and frightening situations. The practical training helps the officers to become confident in their own abilities to assess a situation, select the appropriate protective equipment and techniques needed to resolve the incident safely and effectively so that the road network can be reopened as quickly as possible.
As Jim Green, co-founder of BARTA explained at the inaugural BARTA conference “Highways England Officers deal with around 4,500 animal incidents on the motorway network each year and whilst horses are a relatively small element of that overall activity, the impact of a horse on the motorway is far reaching. It is essential that responders understand how horses behave, particularly when stressed, as horses don’t think, they just react.”
Jeanette Allen CEO of The Horse Trust explains that “Whether it is a pony loose on a country road or a horse caught in a major incident they can be extremely dangerous to work with. They are often frightened and with training the correct action can be taken to lessen their trauma and to keep both the officers attending them, and the public, safe. The initiative to train Highways England is an excellent way to promote the skills to people operating in difficult circumstances.”
The course is held in high regard by the emergency responders from all agencies and its value was recognised by Britain’s Equine communities when its creator Jim Green was given the Sir Colin Spedding Award at this year’s National Equine Forum in recognition of his outstanding work to improve equine rescue skills in the UK.
The training combines e-learning, classroom and practical sessions, focused on animal handling techniques. The first of the training courses was run in September 2016 at The Horse Trust’s site in Buckinghamshire, where, so far, almost 500 Highways England traffic Officers from the southern region have received their training with a target of 700 completing the training by the end of this year.
The combination of first rate facilities and excellent motorway links made the Ledston Equine Centre near Castleford the ideal base for training courses in the region and it is expected that over 300 Highways officers will be trained as the programme is rolled out across the north of the country. Feedback from local officers has been good. Recent attendees have said;
“It built my confidence in animal handling”
“The knowledge and experience of the trainers was excellent”
“An excellent day, well presented and delivered to a level consistent with the target audience”